How to grow and care for Bird's Nest Fern Indoors

Houseplant, Asplenium nidus, Bird's Nest Fern

Botanical name: Asplenium nidus
Family: Aspleniaceae

Bird's Nest Fern also called Asplenium Fern is a large and bold houseplant, beautiful enough to be displayed as a focal point plant. It is native to the warm, moist, tropical rain forests of East africa and Asia where it grows as an epiphyte (a plant that grows on trees). However it adapts well to indoor growth conditions. The spear-like leaves surrounding the fibrous 'nest' at the center are large and can grow up to 3 ft long. When grown indoors, it can grow to a height of 2 ft. The fronds are fragile, ensure that they are not crushed and that they have adequate room to develop. Remove dead and damaged fronds so that new ones can grow. As the plant ages, the older, outer fronds turn brown. Cut them off at the base to maintain the plant looking neat.

How to Grow Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium Fern)

Light

Bright indirect light is the best for Bird's Nest Fern. An east- or north-facing window is ideal. Keep it away from direct sunlight as it may scorch the fronds. Turn the pot regularly to ensure even growth. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

For optimum growth of Asplenium Fern, keep soil evenly moist at all times, never allow it to dry out. Reduce watering during the cold months. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Avoid wetting the crown as it may lead to crown rot; pour the water on the soil or water from below. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth between 15-250C is ideal for Bird's Nest Fern. Protect it from cold draughts. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Asplenium Fern thrives in high humidity. This houseplant is suitable for high humidity areas like the bathroom and kitchen. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for this fern. Clean the fronds by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to keep them clean and shiny.

Feeding

Feed Bird's Nest Fern with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is reduced. Overfeeding this fern will lead to deformed leaves and spotted leaves. Avoid putting fertilizer in the central cup or "nest" as it can burn the delicate foliage. Find out more on feeding houseplants.

Pruning

Remove dead and damaged fronds so that new ones can grow. As the plant ages, the older, outer fronds turn brown. Cut them off at the base to maintain the plant looking neat.

Repotting

Repot Asplenium Fern annually at the beginning of the growing season for young plants. For mature plants repot when the the roots fill the pot; they prefer to be slightly root-bound. Use a pot that is 1 size larger and one that has drainage hole(s) to avoid waterlogging. Use loose free-draining soil, rich in organic matter. The plant can become top-heavy; use a heavy pot to prevent it from falling over. Ensure the crown of the plant is above the soil surface to prevent the plant from rotting.

How to Propagate Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium Fern)

Bird's Nest Fern can only be propagated from spores obtained from the underside of the mature fronds or through tissue culture. These methods may not be achievable at the home front; in which case propagation is better left to the experts.

Common problems in growing Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium Fern)

  • Brown dots or lines on the underside of fronds
  • These are spores which can be used for propagation. They indicate that the frond is mature and healthy.

  • Yellowing fronds, brown tips, no new growth
  • The cause of this is too dry air. Find how to easily raise humidity.

  • Pale fronds, scorch marks on the surface
  • This is caused by direct sunlight on the fronds. Protect the Asplenium Fern from direct sunlight.

  • Yellowing fronds from the base, mature fronds develop brown spots and fall
  • The air is too warm; move the plant to a cooler place. If the plant is also wilting and limpy, incorrect watering is the reason; maintain the soil moist at all times while allowing it to dry out slightly between waterings and never allow the soil to dry out.

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Overwatering is the reason; maintain the soil moist at all times while allowing it to dry out slightly between waterings but never allow the soil to dry out.

  • Fronds dying back
  • There are two reasons for this. One reason is dry air; raise humidity by placing the pot on a wet pebble tray. The other reason is dry soil; maintain the soil moist at all times while allowing it to dry out slightly between waterings and never allow the soil to dry out.

  • Pale fronds, weak growth
  • Underfeeding is the cause; feed Aplenium Fern with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a month through out the growing period.

  • Brown hairy fuzz on the fronds
  • This is harmless. As new fronds emerge from the nest, they bring up some brown fuzz from the nest which sticks on the fronds. It can be removed by gently brushing it off or simply leave it alone as it will eventually dry out to become dust-like.

  • Brown shells scattered on fronds
  • This is an indication of a infestation by Scales. Isolate the affected plant. Wipe them off with a damp soft cloth or a cotton bud dabbed or discard the plant if heavily infested. Avoid chemical use as chemicals easily destroy ferns.

Toxicity

Bird's Nest Ferns are non-toxic to humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors.

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